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Hollywood Strike: Actors and Studios Reach Agreement

Los Angeles (dpa) - Actors and film studios in Hollywood have reached a "preliminary agreement," suspending the strike that has been ongoing for nearly four months on Thursday. Representatives of the actors and film studios reached the agreement "in a unanimous vote," announced the actors' union SAG-AFTRA. The agreement still needs to be ratified by the union members before it can take effect.

The approximately 160,000 actors in the United States had been on strike since July 14. SAG-AFTRA revealed that the new contract has a value of over one billion dollars (around 935 million euros). It includes an above-average minimum wage and improvements in pension and health insurance.

Additionally, clear regulations have been established for the first time to protect artists from the threat of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through compensation payments. Members are also expected to receive a bonus in relation to streaming services.

Screenwriters had also been on strike since early May but reached an agreement with the studios in early October. It was the first time in over 60 years that writers and actors had simultaneously gone on strike. According to Todd Holmes, a professor of entertainment media management at Cal State Northridge University, the two strikes caused an estimated economic damage of around seven billion dollars, as reported in the "Los Angeles Times."

If union members approve the agreement, the entire contract is set to be published on Friday. The return of actors to their workplaces marks the end of one of the longest and largest work stoppages in Hollywood's history.

Numerous blockbusters delayed The strike paralyzed production throughout the industry for almost four months and raised existential questions about the future of the entertainment industry. Many TV and film productions were interrupted or canceled.

Although many reality shows and some independent projects were able to continue production, major studios were forced to delay numerous blockbusters, including "Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse," "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," "Dune: Part Two," and "Gladiator 2," as well as series hits like "Euphoria" and "Stranger Things."

The unions particularly demanded better compensation when films or series are streamed on platforms like Netflix, Apple, and Amazon. Another central issue was the use of AI. Writers were concerned that studios could replace them with the technology. Actors feared that their likeness could be digitized and simulated without compensation or consent.

Writers accepted the new contract In early October, Hollywood writers concluded their nearly five-month strike. With an overwhelming majority of 99 percent, the screenwriters accepted the new contract with major film studios. It also includes salary increases and regulations for the use of AI, as well as higher subsidies for retirement and health care.

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Who will be the best European film of the year?

Last year, "Triangle of Sadness" by the Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund won four awards, including Best European Film in 2022.

Who will follow in his footsteps? This year's competition is strong, with no clear favorite but five high-profile contenders.

"Anatomy of a Case" by Justine Triet
The hearts of many movie fans beat for "Anatomy of a Case" by the French director Justine Triet, starring the incomparable Sandra Hüller. She plays a highly self-determined woman suspected of murder.

The drama was released in theaters last Thursday and received the Golden Palm for Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival. The film's team is being discussed as potential contenders for the Oscars, including Hüller as the lead actress.

Hüller is also nominated twice for the European Film Awards for her role in "Anatomy of a Case" and the other Cannes favorite, "The Zone of Interest."

"The Zone of Interest" by Jonathan Glazer
The film dissects the family life of Auschwitz concentration camp commander Rudolf Höss in a shocking and almost surgical manner. Hüller plays Höss' wife, Hedwig.

Viewers of the film only see the exterior walls of Auschwitz or a smoking chimney. Screams can be heard while Hedwig strolls through her lavish garden or shows flowers to the baby. The horror is starkly contrasted with the life of the Höss family. The British director Jonathan Glazer received the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes for this drama.

"Green Border" by Agnieszka Holland
"Green Border," directed by the renowned Agnieszka Holland, is also in the race. This black-and-white drama tells the story of migrants at the Polish-Belarusian border and has sparked controversy among ultra-conservatives in Poland.

The film follows a Syrian family attempting to escape to the EU through Belarus. Their experiences are interwoven with the stories of a young Polish border guard and a group of Polish activists.

The film is mostly set in 2021, when the situation at the Polish-Belarusian border escalated, with thousands of people attempting to illegally enter the EU. The EU accused Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of organizing the transport of migrants from crisis regions to the EU's external borders in an organized manner to exert pressure on the West.

"Falling Leaves" by Aki Kaurismäki
Also nominated is the tragicomedy "Falling Leaves" by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, known for his films filled with melancholy and dry humor.

This description also applies to "Falling Leaves." The tragicomedy tells the story of two lonely individuals on the fringes of society in Helsinki, searching for love.

Supermarket employee Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and the construction worker and alcoholic Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) both lead bleak lives in the Finnish capital. Helsinki appears in this film as if frozen in time, with a touch of the fairytale.

"Me Captain" by Matteo Garrone
Another contender is "Io capitano" or "Me Captain" by Matteo Garrone. The film depicts the journey of two young men from West Africa's Senegal who want to flee to Italy and endure horrifying experiences along the way.

The film received the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival.

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